Your Houston Texans are keeping their linebackers coach, as Mike Vrabel has reportedly turned down a job offer and a promotion in San Francisco to stay at NRG Park.
Mike Vrabel has turned down the #49ers DC job & will stay in Houston per source— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) January 22, 2016
Vrabel, a former three-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots, was a rising star in college coaching circles with the Ohio State Buckeyes before joining Bill O’Brien’s staff in Houston in 2014. His impressive list of credits to date includes the development of star players at multiple levels, like Joey Bosa, Adolphus Washington, Ryan Shazier, and of course 2015 breakout sack artist Whitney Mercilus.
Thought to be Romeo Crennel’s possible heir apparent as the defensive coordinator in Houston, word broke Tuesday morning that the 49ers were interviewing the Texans' linebackers coach for their defensive coordinator vacancy. Yesterday, we learned that the 49ers offered the job to Vrabel. Tonight, we found out that Vrabel decided he'd rather stay and presumably grow on Bill O'Brien's coaching staff instead of calling the shots for San Francisco's defense for Chip Kelly. In other words, Vrabel turned down a clear promotion and an opportunity to work for one of the storied franchises in the NFL (even if the post-Harbaugh reality has not been kind) to remain in Houston as a position coach.
Does this mean that the Texans offered Vrabel a raise? A promise that he'd succeed Romeo Crennel whenever Crennel decides to step down? No one's saying. For now, it's enough that the Texans will keep one of the hotter young coaching properties in the league for at least one more year. It's a good night to be a Texans fan.
One final Texans-related angle: Remember that Bill O'Brien could have denied the 49ers' request to interview Vrabel. NFL rules permit a team to refuse other teams the opportunity to interview assistant coaches who are under contract for any non-head coaching positions. Recall that the Cincinnati Bengals did just that when the Denver Broncos wanted to interview Vance Joseph for their defensive coordinator opening last year. O'Brien, however, has shown he won't stand in the way of his coaches making moves that improve their lot or that of their families.
Bill O'Brien loves Mike Vrabel. Could have denied 49ers permission. Last year he let DL coach Bill Kollar go to Denver. Won't hold them back— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 20, 2016
Says a lot about O'Brien that he allowed Vrabel to interview with 49ers. Didn't have to, & many coaches (ie McCarthy) refuse.— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) January 20, 2016
Former Texans defensive line coach Bill Kollar was effusive in his praise of the Texans' head coach for letting him head to Denver last year, and it stands to reason that O'Brien's refusal to keep Vrabel from exploring opportunities to move up the ladder will only further endear O'Brien to the coaching community moving forward.